Thursday 22 October 2009

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© John Sawyer – October 2009

Glenferrie railway station. The next train, stopping all stations to the city, is due at 2:42pm. I find a seat between two women and watch the departure time tick its way down to NOW – 11 minutes to go. I wonder if it’ll be on time. Students from Swinburne University are congregating on the platform and generating excited noise while they talk about the latest adventures of their friends and classmates. The woman on my left is sending text messages with one hand while she casually pats her baby’s blond head with the other. The baby divides her time between attempting to destroy an old brown paper bag and staring at me disdainfully around the side of her pram.

The woman on my right continues her conversation via mobile phone: “I don’t know how it works really. This friends thing…” She pauses briefly. “Yes I know how to make someone your friend, but I don’t really understand the other stuff.” Even briefer silence while her mobile associate attempts to get a word in. “No, the stuff about special friends or relationships. When I looked this morning, Roger’s page was just showing him as my friend… No! No nothing else, just friend… Oh, I live in hope, I do, but you can only take it a day at a time.” I wonder how sporting truisms have managed to penetrate everyday language.

My attempts to get a smile from the baby are punished by a harsher, more contemptuous frown. I try to disengage from the Facebook friendship diatribe on my right but the words penetrate my defences: “You see when I looked last night, Roger was showing that he was in a relationship and when I went to Melanie’s page, she was showing that she was in a relationship… No, it doesn’t say who… Yes, they both showed me as a fiend…”

Maybe this isn’t Facebook, maybe it’s some sort of dating site she’s talking about: “… Yes, I know… Well as I said, this morning he’s no longer in a relationship… Well, I don’t know about Melanie… No, I’ve been blocked from Melanie’s page. A bit strange really…What? Do you think…? Well I can’t be held responsible, can I …? Hmm, maybe you’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t have rooted Roger; I didn’t know it would affect my list of friends like that … That’s between us, surely… Oh, I know…”

The conversation continues until the train comes, but I can’t take it all in. Maybe I’m getting too old. My mind boggles at the idea of having to deal with the added complications of conducting an affair in an era of instant access to the most private of information. I do get the baby to twist her cupid’s bow into a big toothless smile before we all rush to find a seat on the train.


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